Local Boxers Chase Their Dreams In Queens

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by Sarah Deming

JAMAICA, N.Y.—Fight fans in the outer boroughs have a lot to be thankful for. The Barclays Center has brought pugilistic prestige to Brooklyn, 2012 U.S. Olympian Marcus Browne is putting Staten Island on the map, and Queens is now home to some of the best local cards around, thanks to the mighty triumvirate of New Legend, Old World, and W.O.N. Promotions.

Saturday’s main event at the Resorts World Casino here featured undefeated super bantamweight Juan Dominguez (13-0, 9 KOs) of Brooklyn, who scored a powerful third-round stoppage of Manuel Herrera of Columbia. Dominguez simply overwhelmed Herrera, punching to the body with bad intentions.

In the co-feature, Joe “The Irish Bomber” Smith Jr. (above right) moved to 12-1 with a hard-fought unanimous decision win over Hamid-Abdul “The Dream” Mateen, (left) who fell to 3-4-2. I thought I recognized Mateen, and, sure enough, he used to train with me at Bed-Stuy Boxing, under the tutelage of the late, great George Washington.

Mateen’s older brother Ernest, a former cruiserweight world champion, died in a tragic shooting last year. Their father Ernest, Sr. also died from gun violence. 

“It makes me go a little bit harder,” said Hamid Mateen, who works from 7pm to 3am loading trucks for Budweiser, goes home to sleep until noon, runs, then heads out to Gleason’s to train with Grant Seligson. 

When asked why he boxed, Mateen replied, “I want people to know who I am.” 

Today is Hamid Mateen’s 35th birthday. We hope all his dreams come true.

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A six-round junior middleweight feature designed to showcase prospect Frank “Notorious” Galarza (9-0-1) (left) against the slick, tough Jason Thompson (5-6-2) (right) ended in a split draw. Unable to back Galarza up, Thompson showcased defensive panache and a surprisingly long jab.

I saw this fight as a win for Galarza, but was happy for Jason, who comes into my gym regularly to give sparring to the young fighters. He could have done something with the right management. 

The split decision win for welterweight Ray Velez (2-3-0) over Angel Garcia (5-1-0) had me shaking my head. Aside from a second-round knockdown for Velez, there was little to recommend his performance here.

Garcia put on a clinic, displaying beautiful angles and combination punching. I was once again happy about this result for selfish reasons, since Velez’s corner contained Alex Velasquez, one of the best dancers in New York boxing circles, Dago Mederos, who is always giving me wine, and that guy “Diablo” with the permanent cigar. If there must be injustice in this world, let it always benefit my friends.

Brooklyn’s Allan Phelan improved his record to 2-2 with a second round stoppage of Jimmy Small of Cincinnati.

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Daniel Hernandez wasn’t scared by featherweight Subryan Ramayya’s flag face (above). The exceptionally tall and awkward Hernandez boxed Ramayya to a majority draw, and a fight almost broke out afterward between the two entourages. 

Twenty-three-year old junior lightweight Bryant “Pee Wee” Cruz got his fourth KO in as many fights when he stopped Alabama’s Michael Doyle in the last minute of their four-rounder. Cruz’s sister Oneyda was part of a large, warm cheering section for the ironically named Pee Wee, who had several inches of height advantage over his opponent.

The opening bout was a shutout for Brooklyn’s Shawn Cameron, who is coached by the excellent Don Saxby. Cameron improved to 5-0 and looked good in his camouflage Havocs, the brand of choice for New York fighters. Havoc gear is a little pricey, a little flashy, and takes some influence to obtain. If you’re betting on a fight, and the fight is in New York, put your money on the guy in the Havoc trunks.

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